Month: March 2018

National Poetry Competition 2017 Shortlist

National Poetry Competition 2017 Shortlist

On 28th March the winners of the 2017 National Poetry Competition were announced at a glitzy gathering at the Savile Club in Mayfair. 'AngelBat' (see Archive) was one of ten poems to be shortlisted from the approx 13,000 entries submitted.

Summarizing the judges' decision Pascale Petit wrote:

"What a pleasure it was to come across ‘AngelBat’ with its playfulness and surprise ending. It’s a poem that feels like it wrote itself, the language transparent and relaxed. There is the love of the parent for the child, the child for the parent, and a mischievous goddess’s love for the world and all in it. The tone is airy and celebratory – and the lines capture the exuberant energy of a baby, and of a parent energised and learning from a baby. As I read it I felt as if I too was being swung upside-down and dangled. I loved the way the game kept shifting unpredictably. Who is being swung and who is doing the swinging? Why is the baby so wise and grown-up? Why does the parent want to swap places? The answers could be weighty, but their treatment is light. It is hard to write happiness, but ‘AngelBat’ turns philosophical insights about our human condition into a hybrid bat-angel of wonder."

For details of the shortlisted poems and the competition winners go to:

National Poetry Competition




Last year I turned forty but these days I find
my wisdom bested by a toddling child.
“Hold me upside down by my ankles,” she says, “and swing me from side to side.”
And I say: “Ella, my lovely,
if you had only mined the depths of fickleness in me,
if you only knew how little I deserve your trust, you’d never ask.”
And she says: “Hold me upside down by my ankles,
and swing me from side to side like a pendulum.”
So I do.

Below the pinchmarks of her nappy
her belly is as round and as smooth and as full of laughter as an unbaked bun.
And the hairs of her upturned fringe strike sparks of pure gold from the carpet.
In their afterglow she pleads: “Again.”
And I say: “Ella, my lovely,
if you only knew how rich a seam of unreliability you’ll find in me, you’d never ask.”
“But it’s fun,” she says. “Really … you should try it sometime.”

In my dreams I pray to the Goddess:
“Hold me upside down by my ankles and swing me from side to side
like the pendulum of a Grandfather clock.”
And that’s just what the Goddess does.

Squinting upwards, into the radiance, I can’t help but notice
that my navel’s crammed with grey-green fluff.
And the thought comes that it’s ages since I changed my socks.
“It’s no good,” I say, “I feel like a Bat, I feel like a large, ungainly Vampire Bat.
Maybe we could try it the other way up?”
So we do.

And for a moment, for the briefest of moments,
suspended by my armpits in the grip of the divine,
I know myself utterly and completely an Angel.
Angel; vampire bat. Vampire Bat; angel.
Bat, angel; Angel, bat. Batangel; Angelbat.

In the early morning bustle of coffee-brewing and mislaid socks, I seek her out.
“Ella, my lovely,” I say,
“In my dreams I dreamed I was a cherub
with teeth like hypodermics and a freezer full of Type O blood.
In my dreams I dreamed I was a Vampire
haloed in gold and endowed with all the wisdom of the Seraphim.
In my dreams I dreamed I was an angel. In my dreams I dreamed I was a bat.”

And she looks at me, with infinite compassion, from out of her three-year-old eyes
and says: “Such little progress, and so much to learn …”
And she squats, and shits serenely on the living room carpet.